Founded by French-Canadian loggers in 1903, Besaw’s (NW 23rd Ave. and Savier St., 503/228-2619, www.besaws.com, 7 a.m.–3 p.m. Mon., 7 a.m.–10 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 8 a.m.–10 p.m. Sat., 8 a.m.–3 p.m. Sun., $15–25) is a jewel-box of a restaurant and one of the favorite breakfast destinations in Northwest Portland. Breakfast here isn’t just fueling for the morning; it’s a lavish affair that borders on fine cuisine. All the omelets are fantastic, but if you’re from out of town, you owe yourself the house-smoked salmon omelet with cream cheese, dill, and chopped scallions. Lunch and dinner, when the menu turns to American classics such as roast chicken, meatloaf, and burgers, ain’t bad either.
Famous for its desserts—towering many-layered concoctions that defy gravity and description—Papa Haydn (701 NW 23rd Ave., 503/228-7317, and 5829 Milwaukie Ave., 503/232-9440, 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 11:30 a.m.–midnight Fri.–Sat., 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Sun.) is Portland’s doyen of desserts in a decadent league of its own. The restaurant is also an excellent place for light lunches and suppers. Sandwiches and salads are as carefully fashioned as the marjolaine cake, but it’s the refrigerated case filled with 30 or more eye-popping desserts ($5–9) that will form your permanent memory of this Portland landmark.
Imagine flavorful all-American comfort food like pot roast, baked chicken, and pan-fried fish, and then imagine them raised to the level of fine dining. Paragon (1309 NW Hoyt St., 503/833-5060, www.paragonrestaurant.com, 11:30 a.m.–4 p.m. and 5:30–10 p.m. Sun.–Wed., 11:30 a.m.–4 p.m. and 5:30–11 p.m. Thurs.–Sat., $13–28) calls it American bistro cuisine, and that just about captures it. The dining room is bright and pleasant, but on weekend nights the bar’s live music and singles scene detract from pleasurable dining.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel